Why someone can't just tell you what to do

"Tell me exactly how this will work in my process." I hear this comment way too frequently. While it may seem like a simple request, the problem is – no one person can tell you what to do. It takes a little creative self-evaluation to figure out.

However, when someone recently asked me to tell them what to do during a CPE session I was facilitating, I decided to take a totally different path with my response.

Lack of Critical Thought

I can't help but wonder how our profession will continue to innovate, improve and expand our capabilities if we want to be told what to do. The accounting industry (and other industries, to be fair) is beginning to lose its ability to think critically about how and why we do the things we do within our firms. Why? Well, because:

  • We take everything for granted. We've had success in the past and think we're guaranteed that same success in the future.
  • We believe that we can "steal" best practices from other firms and outside vendors. And, better yet, we think those ideas will work as effectively for us.
  • We talk in the same circles at conferences...about the same metrics and firm issues that have been discussed for decades...with the same speakers and topics.

All of this leads to the loss of critical thinking skills – from top to bottom in a firm – that are needed to solve real problems within your organization.

Learn to Fish

I'm sure you've heard the saying: "Give a person a fish, and you have fed them for today. Teach a person to fish, and you have fed them for a lifetime." Instead of always asking for step-by-step instructions, or a specific result, you should be asking questions that teach and guide you to find the solutions yourself.

After all, every firm is different and what works in one firm may not work in another.

Rise Above the Rest

Individuals who ask me to tell them what they need to do are failing to see the big picture outside of their role in the process. As a result, they are not grasping a lot of valuable business insights and strategies.

To rise above the competition, firm management and rising firm leaders must be critical thinkers first and foremost. Lean Six Sigma is a great tool to round out a leader's capabilities.

Lean CPA
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